October 24, 2014 update on the Proposed “Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ Under the Clean Water Act”
On April 21, 2014, EPA and the Corps published the proposed rule “Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’ Under the Clean Water Act” in theFederal Register (79 FR 22188). The public comment for the proposed rule closes on November 14, 2014. The independent SAB has completed a peer review of the proposed rule’s primary supporting document, EPA’s draft report Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis. The peer review was drafted by the SAB’s Panel for the Review of the EPA Water Body Connectivity Report and approved by the chartered SAB. The final peer review has been placed as a supporting document in the docket for this proposed rulemaking and is available on the SAB’s website, http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabpeople.nsf/WebCommittees/BOARD
SAB Review of the Draft EPA Report Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence
For the Federal Register, go to: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-10-24/pdf/2014-25138.pdf
Agriculture's Exemptions and Exclusions from Clean Water Act Expanded by Proposal:
On March 25, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) jointly released a proposed rule to clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation's water resources. The proposed rule will benefit businesses by increasing efficiency in determining coverage of the Clean Water Act. The agencies are launching a robust outreach effort over the next 90 days, holding discussions around the country and gathering input needed to shape a final rule.
Additionally, EPA and the Army Corps have coordinated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop an interpretive rule to ensure that 53 specific conservation practices that protect or improve water quality will not be subject to Section 404 dredged or fill permitting requirements. The agencies will work together to implement these new exemptions and periodically review, and update USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation practice standards and activities that would qualify under the exemption. Any agriculture activity that does not result in the discharge of a pollutant to waters of the U.S. still does not require a permit.
Enforcement Action: On November 22, 2011, the USEPA signed a final consent agreement and order with 3-D Development, LLC assessing a Class I civil penalty of $6,750.00 under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for unauthorized work on a subdivision in College Station, Texas. The work was discovered by the Regulatory Branch and referred to USEPA as a knowing and willful violation. Concurrent processing of an after-the-fact permit was authorized by the USEPA and the Regulatory Branch authorized the project on August 19, 2011.